Publication International / Transnational - War / Peace - North Africa Gaza after the War

Why is a political solution necessary and why it should not be only about reconstructing the «Prison». By Katja Hermann, Ramallah.

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Katja Hermann,

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February 2015

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The Gaza Strip should be reconstructed once again. During a large scale conference held in Cairo on the 12th of October 2014, $5.4 billion USD were pledged for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.ii In particular Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union promised huge amounts in order to repair the extensive destruction from the last Gaza War in the summer of 2014.iii The most pressing issue, without any question, is swift reconstruction. Tens of thousands of people are waiting for their houses to be rebuilt because their current homes are unlivable. There has to be an end to their waiting for reconstruction material and assistance.

Nevertheless, concentrating all efforts on reconstruction would be shortsighted. Simultaneously, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive political solution for Gaza which not only aims at ending the blockade of the coastal strip but also perceives the Gaza Strip as part of a free and independent Palestine. Mere focus on reconstruction, without taking into consideration the political context, harbors the big risk of continuing the blockade and the isolation of the Gaza Strip and hence of the root causes of the conflict. At the moment, there is reason to fear that there is no paradigm shift in the way Gaza is dealt with. On the contrary, the dominating narratives and known asymmetries of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only continue to sharpen: the Israeli narrative of the conflict and of the war dominate public and published opinion and legitimizes the military operation, as well as the continuation of the blockade as a reaction to the firing of rockets by Hamas. Donor countries finance the reconstruction without holding Israel responsible for the destruction it has caused. Whereas the Palestinian side, including Hamas, has agreed to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, Israel has prevented it from commencing its investigation of human rights violations on the ground. No guarantees have been negotiated for a future protection of the civilian population and of the reconstructed infrastructure.

The Gaza crisis is being handled outside the other arenas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whereas Gaza should be a coherent part of a comprehensive conflict resolution which envisages the end of the Israeli occupation, as well as Palestinian independence. The Palestinians are not sufficiently involved in the reconstruction. Ownership is incumbent upon the UN and of international organizations which increases dependency in an already heavily aid-dependent country where the entitlement to self-determination and participative development has not materialized.

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